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Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now it seems to be on almost every...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Sunday, August 03, 2014
Performers TBA

Peter Duggan and Charles Yang

PIANO SONOMA JAMS IN FINAL WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 03, 2014

PianoSonoma concluded its artist-in-residence performances August 3 in a sparkling Weill Hall concert where mostly new music overshadowed conventional fare.

Mendelssohn’s popular D Minor Trio began the program in a workmanlike performance that never quite caught fire. Tempos throughout were judicious, supported by the warm bottom register of cellist Julian Schwartz, and pianist David Aladashvili’s legato scale passages were, as usual for chamber music in Weill, often indistinct.

The lyrical Andante was lovely with fetching piano duos with violinist Yevgeny Kutik, the latter’s sound having pitch problems and a thin treble tone. The Scherzo was lively and the headlong rush of the finale well controlled. It was trio playing that was light on thematic projection and rubato but deserved the loud applause from the audience of 300.

A seven-section Thomas Cabaniss work, “Movements for Tiny Bits of Outrageous Love,” was boisterously played four hands from score by PianoSonoma directors Jessica and Michael Shinn. In his pre-performance remarks, Mr. Shinn asked the audience to make connections between the work’s witty titles and their own lives. Virtuosity was on display in every piece, from the quotidian “One and One” through “Flutter Flutter” (long shimmering trills and tremolos) and the new age and minimalist “Love Song.” In the nocturne-like “Respite” there was an air of nostalgic Brahms that quickly moved to a brief toccata and a charming slow waltz.

The only astringency was “Crossings,” wild at times with each pianist crossing both hands and making verbal shouts and looks of feigned surprise. The “Two” finale had relaxed playing with a deft rise and fall of phrase. Here the control of dynamics was perfect and the playing was justly received with one of the afternoon’s many ovations. What a showpiece “Movements” is!

A local premiere followed, composer-in-residence Paul Frucht’s unnamed piece for two pianos. Peter Duggan and Mr. Aladashvili played it wonderfully. At turns percussive, rumbling and busy, Mr. Frucht (in the audience and shouting “bravos” at the end) has written a work with cascades of notes and some inside-the-piano string plucking. The artists made the most of the short lyrical sections amid the raucous grand sweep that grew inexorably to a powerful conclusion.

Violinist Charles Yang and Mr. Duggan concluded the program with Ravel’s exciting Tzigane, the long solo violin introductory passage carrying clearly in the hall. Though sporadically clipping off phrase endings. Mr. Yang took his time in the 1924 piece, eschewing the often seen flamboyant body motions for lithe leaning into the gypsy harmonics and rhythms. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies (6, 9 and 12) for piano seemingly were models for this impassioned work. Both artists played off the other’s energy and conveyed a bit of menace in the scintillating score, a staple for virtuosi. The string pizzicato was convincingly forceful, as were Mr. Duggan’s even trills and athletic right hand skips. The acceleration of the coda to presto was dramatic.

Speaking of skips, after an unprogrammed five-minute piano-violin jam session that finished the concert to a standing ovation, Mr. Yang skipped off the stage with a full cartwheel.

PianoSonoma’s final concert was a cheerful event with serious and genial music captivatingly played.